Kathleen Kenny and J.J. Abrams discuss George Lucas’ discontent with Star Wars
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Kathleen Kennedy, who has presided over everything Star Wars since Disney purchased Lucasfilm way back in 2012, and The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams finally offered their thoughts on George Lucas’ displeasure with the latest trilogy.
At this point, it’s no secret that Lucas is, ahem, disappointed with the latest batch of Star Wars films. The man has voiced his displeasure several times over Disney’s decision to jettison his original outlines in favor of Abrams’ vision. Yet, Kennedy, who has a long-standing relationship with Lucas, claims there are no ill feelings despite the circumstances.
“Personally, I’ve had a relationship with George going back to all of us meeting before making Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Kennedy explained. “So this is a long, 35-plus years that I’ve known George, and I continue to be very, very good friends with George. And I think there’s plenty of examples where people create something that is fundamental to who they are, where it’s difficult letting go and watching that become something different. So I think initially, that was difficult for George — I don’t think he anticipated how hard that would be.”
Kennedy then went on to explain that Abrams needed to make the project his own, and that doing so led to Lucas’ dissatisfaction. In any event, Kennedy claims that while Lucas may not be happy with all of Abrams’ decisions (or Rian Johnson’s for that matter), he is ultimately happy with several aspects of the film. Particularly, the special effects.
“And he so appreciates, for instance, what ILM [Industrial Light & Magic, Lucasfilm’s visual-effects arm, has done in the work of these movies,” Kennedy said. “I mean, that’s a company he created. And he just continually tells me how astounded he is by how far things have come and how, now, whatever comes into your mind can be achieved… I can’t really speak on behalf of what George is feeling all the time. But I know that he’s very, very proud of what he created. And to see people go on and enjoy this now into almost 2020 is pretty remarkable.”
As for Abrams, he only had positive things to say about Lucas.
“I’ve only had gratitude for George,” Abrams said. “It’s probably a complicated thing for him. To decide you’re going to sell this thing that you created, that was your baby, to anyone — that must be more complicated than signing a check and smiling about it. But he’s been incredibly gracious. He’s been super-generous.”
Abrams than went on to discuss the aftermath of the Disney-LucasFilm deal. Lucas was eager to share his ideas regarding Episodes 7, 8, and 9, and shared the points he believed were most important to the story.
“And we’ve done nothing but try and adhere to some fundamental aspects of the story,” Abrams continued. “It wasn’t a difficult thing to try and do. And again, he was really gracious. So I’m only grateful. Do I wish that [Force Awakens] had been his favorite movie of all time? Yes, I only wanted to do well by him. I would just say that I have nothing but profound respect for the guy and am still truly, even more so now, working on these movies in awe of what he created.”
Returning cast members for The Rise of Skywalker include Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo and Billie Lourd. Joining the cast are Naomi Ackie (Doctor Who), Richard E. Grant (Logan), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings), and Keri Russell (The Americans), who will also be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian. The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In addition to directing, Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio (Argo, Justice League). Kathleen Kennedy, Michelle Rejwan, and Abrams will produce, with Callum Greene and Jason McGatlin executive producing. Composer John Williams, who has scored every chapter in the Star Wars saga since 1977’s A New Hope, will return to a galaxy far, far away with Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is scheduled for release on December 20.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)